Monday, July 14, 2014

Russian's 'Imperial Dream' Faces Last Stand in Donetsk

Muscovite Heading Separatist Movement in Ukraine Seeks Return of Empire

By Philip Shishkin, WSJ
July 13, 2014 8:02 p.m. ET

DONETSK, Ukraine—The military noose was tightening around the rebel city, and Alexander Borodai, now the leader of pro-Russia separatists in Donetsk, was urging decisive action.

That was more than a decade ago, in a different war and a different city—Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, which was fighting for independence from Russia. Mr. Borodai, accompanying Russian troops as a war correspondent, wanted to see Grozny hit hard, all insurgents killed, and Chechen autonomy eradicated in favor of direct Moscow rule.

"Together, they will finally wipe the hated city off the face of the Earth," he wrote of Russian soldiers preparing to enter Grozny in 2000.

Now as Ukrainian forces encircle Donetsk for a final push against pro-Russia insurgents holed up in this regional capital, Mr. Borodai, head of the rebel government, is likely to find himself on the receiving end of the kind of anti-separatist offensive he once urged.

Mr. Borodai's sudden emergence at the helm of the pro-Russia separatist movement in Ukraine shows how Russia has struggled to find reliable local leaders in a fight the Kremlin continues to insist it isn't inciting. His comments on Chechnya help explain the harsh worldview of a Muscovite who has nurtured an ideal of Russia for more than two decades.

(More here.)

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